SWANS ISLAND — The town of Swans Island has dissolved its police department and contracted with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
Selectman Dexter Lee said town officials decided to contact the sheriff’s department about providing the service after the town’s police chief, Paul Gamble, announced that he was leaving to take a job with the Gouldsboro Police Department. Selectmen approved the agreement at a meeting last week.
According to the agreement, Deputy Rob Morang is to work a 42-hour week on the island. The sheriff’s department is to be paid $46 per hour for the service. The town is to provide a police cruiser and an apartment for Morang and his family to live. Morang also will serve as shellfish warden.
Sheriff Scott Kane said county commissioners have given the contract their initial approval, and he expects them to finalize the deal on Friday. Morang is scheduled to begin his duties on the island on July 1.
With Morang being the only police presence on the offshore island, it is unreasonable to expect him to have a regular work schedule, Kane said.
“He has the flexibility to make his schedule work,” Kane said.
When Morang is off-island, law enforcement protection would come from the mainland from either the sheriff’s department or state police, whichever agency has that “slot” for the day, Kane said.
“It’s a great fit,” Kane said of Morang and the town. “He’s a great police officer. This is community policing at its best.”
Lee said the town is looking forward to the arrangement. “It certainly looks like a good deal,” he said.
Gamble’s resignation wasn’t the only reason selectmen decided to go with the sheriff’s department, Lee said. Paperwork and training requirements have become too time-consuming for small town departments, he explained.
“We decided to let someone else have the headaches of management,” Lee said.
Swans Island has had its own police department for about 10 years, Lee said. Before then, the sheriff’s department provided protection.
The town has been without an officer since May 30. For now, residents are being asked to call the sheriff’s department at 667-7575 or dial 911 if services are needed.
The sheriff’s department has contracts for additional patrolling with two other towns in the county, Tremont and Stonington.